London in a Day

I recently had the opportunity to travel to London, England on business. I had limited time to see the sites during the week, but on one fine Saturday I was able to see many of the sites. Over one hundred pictures of the tour are here.

Prior to my arrival, I booked the Total London Experience with Golden Tours. The tour was fast and furious with the bus barely slowing down at some sites.

7:30 AM – Golden Tours is already late and finally picks us up at 8. We spend the next 45 minutes picking up other people from other hotels in the London area. The streets are quiet on a Saturday morning.
A typical London street early on a Saturday morning
A typical London street early on a Saturday morning

9:00 AM – After being dropped off at a central bus station, we are now on our tour bus (not a double decker). Our guide highlights narrow streets originating in the middle ages, Oxford Street and Hyde Park.

Some streets are narrow because they originated in the middle ages

Earlier in the week, I had taken the time to walk to Oxford Street to buy a sweat shirt at Primark. That was a unique shopping experience that I can best describe as organized looting.

We drive through Piccadilly Circus with barely enough time to snap this picture:
Piccadilly Circus
Piccadilly Circus in two minutes – the duration of one traffic signal

We literally drive past Trafalgar Square and I got these pictures while the bus was moving!

9:45 AM We arrive at Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament. Since this is such an iconic landmark, I took extra pictures of it.

We coasted past Downing Street long enough to glimpse the residence of the Prime Minister.

The black house on the right is where the PM lives

10:00 AM Our first actual stop is at the Household Cavalry on Whitehall. There we were able to take pictures, interview a guard and tour the museum.

11:00 AM We arrive at Buckingham Palace for the changing of the guard. The crowd is already swelling and we are only able to see part of the procession.

Noon We arrive at Covent Garden for lunch at a local pub named Marquess of Anglesey for a chicken dish and pint of Young ale. We have about an hour and a half for lunch and exploring.

1:45 PM We arrive at St. Paul’s Cathedral. This is the most stunning stop of the tour, but no pictures are allowed inside. A wedding is underway with a double decker special awaiting the wedding party.

3:00 PM We arrive at the Tower of London for the longest queues in the tour. Here we meet a Beef Eater, see the Crown Jewels (no pictures allowed) and spend time exploring the area.

The Tower Bridge as seen from one of the sentry walls at the Tower of London

5:30 PM We are in a queue for the tour of the Thames on the Thames Clipper.

6:15 PM We are in a queue for the London Eye. There is a short 3D movie that was pretty cool, followed by another queue. Lots of pictures on the Shutter Fly site link above.

7:35 PM I walk across the bridge to the Embankment Tube Station for my first taste of the underground. It costs 4 GBP ($6) for a 15 minute ride back to Paddington and the train is not air conditioned.

8:15 PM I have dinner at the Monkey Puzzle pub. Dinner includes Biggles Sausages (aka bangers) and mashed potatoes (and a pint of another English ale).

9:30 PM Back at the hotel to unwind. Little do I know that the next day’s travel will be 19 hours.